Suggestions for a Successful Trench Safety Stand Down

The National Utility Contractors Association is holding its annual Trench Safety Stand Down this week, which is an educational opportunity for the always vital message of practicing good trench safety on the job site

Suggestions for a Successful Trench Safety Stand Down

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Maintaining good trench safety practices should be a priority 365 days a year. But this week in particular is a time to emphasize it as the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA) holds its Trench Safety Stand Down, giving contractors an opportunity to recognize the importance of excavation safety and educate their crews.

Here are NUCA’s suggestions on how to go about holding a Trench Safety Stand Down event this week:

Making preparations

Ideally this was on your calendar and you started making preparations early. You have a designated coordinator who is organizing your Trench Safety Stand Down event. But even if you haven’t, you can try your best to still do something this week to help make everyone in your organization know that trench safety is a top priority.

If you have multiple work sites, identify a team that will lead the Stand Down at each site. Assign different managers (upper and middle managers, project managers, estimators, etc.) to separate projects during the event to reinforce the commitment of your company leadership.

Invite subcontractors, architects, engineers, or others associated with your projects to also participate in the Stand Down.

Review your trench/excavation safety program

This will help provide a more effective Stand Down.

Look at what types of incidents could happen: cave-ins, struck-by, trips and falls, materials handling.

What needs improvement? Is your program meeting its goals? Are you experiencing fatalities, injuries, or near misses? Are employees aware of the company's trenching/excavation procedures?

What training have you provided to your workers? Does it need revision? 

What equipment have you provided to your workers? Is better equipment available? 

Determine when to hold the Stand Down and how long it will last

Decide if the Stand Down will take place over a break, a lunch period, or some other time.

Develop presentations or activities that will meet your needs

Decide what information will be best for your workplace and workers. The meeting should provide information to workers about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations. Provide Stand Down information and materials in advance to the people who will be responsible for leading the event. Plan to involve employees in the discussion and see if they have any concerns or suggestions. Hands-on exercises (a work site walk-around, equipment checks, etc.) can be beneficial.

Promote the Stand Down

Place fliers and posters at your job sites to promote trench safety and the Stand Down event. Make sure everyone is informed about it so that they can plan around it. Some employers find that serving snacks and lunch increases participation.

Ask workers to audit their respective work areas and identify hazards prior to the event. During the event, use the materials you selected in advance and try to make it interesting to workers. Make it positive and interactive. Discuss the findings of their audits. Let workers talk about their experiences and encourage them to make suggestions.

Follow up

If you learn something that could improve your trench/excavation program, be sure to make the necessary changes. Identify and control any unsafe work practices and conditions.

Visit for more Trench Safety Stand Down resources from NUCA.


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